Drugs smuggled in through Incheon Airport surge since pandemic: lawmaker

The amount of drugs smuggled into South Korea through the country's main gateway has increased since international travel resumed after the pandemic, an opposition lawmaker said Tuesday.

The amount of narcotics smuggled into South Korea through Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, rose from 129,362 grams in 2020 to 538,241 grams in 2022, Rep. Maeng Sung-kyu of the main opposition Democratic Party said, citing data from the Korea Customs Service.

From January to July this year, 311,187 grams of narcotics worth 24 billion won ($17.8 million) came in through the country's main gateway, he said.

South Korea lifted its mandatory PCR testing on inbound travelers on Oct. 1, 2022, effectively lifting all pandemic restrictions against international travelers to the country.

The total amount of drugs smuggled in by tourists has also bounced back.

The figure decreased from 49,755 grams in 2020 to 12,944 grams in 2021, due to strict pandemic border controls, but surged to 35,804 grams last year as global travel resumed.

From 2018 to July this year, 1.7 million grams of narcotics worth around 810 billion won was seized at Incheon International Airport, according to the data.

Maeng called for the government to crack down on international travelers trying to smuggle drugs into the country. (Yonhap)

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